Speaking up or remaining silent about patient safety concerns in rehabilitation: A cross-sectional survey to assess staff experiences and perceptions.

Niederhauser, Andrea; Schwappach, David L. B. (2022). Speaking up or remaining silent about patient safety concerns in rehabilitation: A cross-sectional survey to assess staff experiences and perceptions. Health science reports, 5(3), e631. Wiley 10.1002/hsr2.631

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Background and Aims

Patient safety incidents may be prevented if healthcare workers speak up to voice their concerns when they observe hazardous clinical situations. This study aims to investigate the frequency of speaking up and healthcare workers' perception of organizational climate in rehabilitation clinics.


An online survey was conducted in five rehabilitation clinics. An existing survey instrument (Speaking Up About Patient Safety Questionnaire [SUPS-Q]) was adapted for this purpose. The instrument includes items on self-reported speak-up-related behavior (perceived safety concerns, withholding voice, and speaking up), anticipated speak-up behavior, barriers to speaking up, and speak-up-related climate measures (psychological safety, encouraging environment, and resignation). Data analysis included descriptive statistics, one-way analysis of variance for differences between groups, multiple regression, and measures for validity and reliability of the scales.


Four hundred seventy-one individuals participated in the survey (response rate of 32%). In the 4 weeks preceding the survey, 81% of respondents had specific concerns about patient safety, 83% performed speak up and 41% remained silent in one or more instances. Expected differences between professional groups were confirmed, but surprisingly, we found no effect of hierarchical level on speaking up behavior and perception of the speak-up climate. Factors that most frequently prevented healthcare workers from speaking up were ineffectiveness (38%), presence of patients (26%), and unpredictability of the actor's reaction (25%). The psychometric evaluation of the adapted SUPS-Q showed acceptable results for validity and reliability.


Healthcare workers in rehabilitation clinics frequently perceive safety concerns. The study underlines the importance of promoting a culture of safety and speaking up. The short survey instrument SUPS-Q can be used by rehabilitation clinics to initiate discussions related to facilitators and barriers to speaking up and to identify areas for improvement within the organization.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Schwappach, David


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services








Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

12 May 2022 17:29

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2022 08:28

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

communication hospitals organizational culture patient safety rehabilitation surveys and questionnaires





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